Tag Archives: Rochdale Village

Rochdale Village man suspected of killing brother in double shooting: cops

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

The NYPD is asking the public’s help in finding a 23-year-old man suspected of fatally shooting his brother and another man in Rochdale Village earlier this year.

Police released on Wednesday a picture of Shane Van Williams, who is sought for killing 20-year-old Sean Van Williams and 24-year-old Rendell Cassimy on the night of Jan. 25 inside an apartment house on 127th Avenue.

Sources familiar with the investigation stated that the Van Williams brothers and Cassimy were involved in a dispute between two groups of individuals in the lobby of the building. During the exchange, authorities said, Shane Van Williams allegedly pulled out a gun and opened fire; Sean Van Williams and Cassimy were both shot in the head.

Shane Van Williams and others involved in the fight fled by the time 113th Precinct officers arrived at the scene after receiving a 911 call about the shooting. Cassimy was pronounced dead at the scene; Sean Van Williams died five days later while undergoing treatment at Jamaica Hospital.

Police describe Shane Van Williams as standing 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing about 190 pounds. He was previously arrested in 2011 for theft of service in transit.

Anyone with information regarding the double homicide or the suspect’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages will be kept confidential.


More questions than answers on proposed Rochdale Village rehab center

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua


Frustrations boiled over in Rochdale Village Thursday night as residents couldn’t get any answers about a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center that may be relocating to the community.

Representatives from the Faith Mission Crisis Center and the Holy Unity Baptist Church, along with Assemblywoman Vivian Cook, were invited to the special forum to explain the proposal, but failed to attend.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. was the lone scheduled speaker to appear at the housing cooperative’s grand ballroom Thursday. Sanders said he appreciates the work the rehabilitation center is doing but that “we are going to have to draw the line on this one.”

The crisis center is currently located at 114-40 Van Wyck Expwy. and is looking at possibly moving to the Holy Unity Baptist Church at 167-10 137th Ave. The relocated center would be a 30-day, short-term residential program with 60 beds, according to Rochdale Village Community Relations Committee member Hettie Powell.

Last week, representatives from the crisis center conducted a walk-through of the church facilities but have not been in touch with the church since then, according to Powell.

According to Community Relations Committee Co-Chair Talib Bey, a director of the Faith Mission Crisis Center was scheduled to attend the event but was told by his board members not to.

Attendees lined up to express their anger over this proposed rehabilitation center and the disorganization on the part of the committee board.

Resident Rodney Reid said the board should have met with the directors of Faith Mission Crisis Center before coming to the community. He was unhappy with the way the community was informed about this crisis center, he said.

“I got this information from social media on a Facebook page,” Reid said. “It wasn’t like we got this information from our public officials that there was a possibility that this was coming into play, so I think it’s disingenuous to say that we were informed by our public official.”

Lisa Hamlin, one of the younger residents to attend the meeting, said the church should be converted to a space for the children in the community.

“This community needs something other than Popeyes [or] another church. Churches are necessary but we need something to bring up the community,” Hamlin said. “We need something in the community for the younger children to do something other than go to jail, get arrested, possibly get shot.”

Maurice Lacey, executive director of Faith Mission Crisis Center, told The Courier in a phone interview that he was invited to the meeting at 10 p.m. the night before the meeting. He claimed he also heard that the church was negotiating a sale with another organization.

“There are no contracts signed,” Lacey said. “From my understanding, another organization is getting the property.”

He said the entire situation was “sad” and poorly planned by the organizers.

At the end of the meeting, Powell told residents that she had a conversation with Bishop Richard Moore of Holy Unity on Wednesday, and that Moore was under the impression the center was only an alcohol rehabilitation center.

Moore allegedly is in the process of working out a deal with another church to move in and share the services with the congregation that already exists there.

The Courier reached out to the church both through phone and email for comment, but neither was in service.


More Queens Library locations loaning mobile hot spots, tablets

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card, and now more cardholders will be able to stay connected while on the go.

The Queens Library announced Tuesday that it will be expanding its mobile technology lending program in the upcoming weeks to more libraries throughout the borough.

While using their Queens Library cards, customers will be able to borrow free mobile hot spots, providing Internet access anywhere to any Wi-Fi-enabled devices with cellphone reception. Customers will also have the chance to borrow free Google Nexus tablets.

The hot spots are available for one month, and there are three renewals available afterwards. First-time hot spot borrowers will have to sign an agreement and bring a photo ID.

Locations that have been offering the free mobile hot spots and tablets since last year include branches at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica; 1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway; 108-19 71st Ave., Forest Hills; 41-17 Main St., Flushing; and 35-51 81st St., Jackson Heights.

The new locations offering the hot spots include 214-20 Northern Blvd. in Bayside and 37-44 21st St. in Long Island City. They will also be available at the branch at 218-13 Linden Blvd. in Cambria Heights starting April 8; 193-20 Horace Harding Expressway in Fresh Meadows on April 15; and 169-09 137th Ave. in Rochdale Village on April 22.

The Google Nexus tablets are now available at Queens Library branches at 2012 Madison St. in Ridgewood; 128-16 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park; and 169-09 137th Ave. in Rochdale Village. Starting later this month, the tablets will be available at the following locations: 187-05 Union Turnpike in Hillcrest; 103-34 Lefferts Blvd. in Richmond Hill; and the Langston Hughes Community Library at 100-01 Northern Blvd.

A full list of borrowing sites is available at www.queenslibrary.org.


Rochdale Village library to close temporarily for roof replacement

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


The Rochdale Village branch of the Queens  Library will be closed for about two months while the roof is being replaced, officials announced.

The branch, located 169-09 137th Ave., will close at the end of business on Aug. 2 and will reopen in October, the library said.

A mobile library will be set up to provide limited service every Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the closure.

For more information, visit the Queens Library’s website or call 718-990-0700.





Bill would disperse homeless shelters evenly throughout each borough

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Queens shelters may soon be finding new homes.

Councilmembers Ruben Wills and Leroy Comrie started work in 2011 on a bill that would disperse homeless shelters evenly throughout each borough. Wills said research revealed that Community Board (CB) 12 contains 10 of the 18 shelters in all of Queens. CB 12 includes Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, Baisley Park, Rochdale Village and South Jamaica.

“The DHS [Department of Homeless Services] is clustering all of these shelters,” Wills said. “All of these undesirable land uses are in certain community boards. We perceived that to be a huge problem.”

Under the bill, Wills and Comrie proposed limiting the number of shelters in any community board to one-third of the borough’s total.

Wills said placing shelters in one specific type of community, such as CB 12, is not in response to any increase in the homeless population.

“It is not fair that southeast Queens has the majority of homeless shelters in the borough,” Comrie said.

For the existing shelters, Wills suggested they make relocation plans so they and their residents are prepared to move when any site’s lease expires. He said it was important to put shelters in areas with convenient transportation.

The council pair proposed an additional bill under which the DHS would determine whether any shelter resident is a sex offender. If so, the department would notify the local community board, councilmember and police precinct. The department would also conduct mental health and criminal background assessments on all adults entering shelters. If passed, the bill will go into effect on January 1, 2014.



Community comes out to pray, walk for peace

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Johann Hamilton


Residents of Queens refuse to take crime in stride.

Dozens of New Yorkers gathered in front of Baisley Park in Rochdale to participate in the first of many prayer walks over the summer. The walks are intended to help end violence.

Residents from all over the city participated in the program, headed by Reverend Phil Craig of the Greater Springfield Community Church as well as politicians and organizations including the Women’s Committee of the National Action Network and the NYPD’s Explorer program.

“We’re going to make this at least an annual event,” Craig said at the Saturday, July 13 rally. “I think this is a really good thing for the community and the community agrees. We’re going to walk around this entire complex and pray for peace.”

“There’s too much killing and prostitution,” he added. “We’re gathering here so that we can get Jesus into our communities and get the enemy out.”

Saturday’s walk went through Rochdale Village, which Craig explained has seen a high amount of drug-related activity along with prostitution and robberies.

Councilmember and public advocate candidate Letitia James also participated in the walk. She came from a similar event in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

“If you want to change your life and the lives of others today, then march,” she told the attendees. “March on behalf of children and their mothers. March on behalf of schools, and march so that little boys and girls can know that they can one day be the next president of the borough of Queens, or the United States.”

The prayer walks are open to all. No RSVP is required. More information can be found at the Greater Springfield Church’s website, www.greaterspringfieldchurch.org/nan.html.



Sanders defeats indicted incumbent Huntley in State Senate primary

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

Incumbent State Senator Shirley Huntley, who just a few weeks ago was charged with tampering, falsifying business records and conspiracy, lost her District 10 seat.

Before her arrest, Huntley was already facing a viable challenger in the Democratic primary, Councilmember James Sanders, the September 13 winner.

Early numbers coming in showed Sanders ahead, but the results that Huntley’s campaign got at one point may have given the senator and some of her supporters, who were gathered at Rochdale Village, hope that she was going to keep her seat.

Around 10:30 p.m., loud cheers were heard coming from inside that gathering, which was closed to media.

Shortly after, many of those in attendance came out in a seemingly joyful mood. One, a woman decked out in a “Shirley Huntley for State Senate” T-shirt and button, was chanting, “Sanders needs a job!”

Huntley then came out, only saying that she was tired, and quickly got into a car.

But it was Sanders and his supporters who ended up celebrating a win, not Huntley.

Around 11:45 p.m., Sanders, who also faced off against real estate professional Gian A. Jones, made his victory speech at his election night party in Richmond Hill.

With all the precincts reporting, he won 57.1 percent of the vote, according to numbers released by the New York Times.

Huntley received 39.9 percent and Jones won 3 percent.

Sanders does not have a Republican opponent in the general election, and is now the State Senator-elect.

“We pledge clean government, respectful government. This is not our money. This is the people’s money. We don’t have the right to spend it as we wish,” he said in his victory speech.

On August 28, the day after Huntley’s arrest for allegedly helping to cover up the fraudulent use of state money, Sanders called for Huntley to exit the race.

Pleading not guilty to the charges, Huntley, who has held the seat since 2007, refused to give up her campaign.

Neither Huntley nor her campaign could be reached for comment following her loss.

Along with thanking his campaign staff and those who believed that he could win when everyone said he couldn’t beat an incumbent state senator, Sanders also mentioned in his victory speech what he hoped to do for his community.

Sanders’ chief of staff, Donovan Richards, reportedly wants to run for his boss’ soon to be vacated seat.

“He’s the right pick to replace me in the city council,” said Sanders.

Former Queens Little League ‘coach of the year’ pleads guilty to sexually abusing minors

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Ellis Kaplan

A former Little League coach of the year pleaded guilty to sexually abusing players on his team.

David Hartshorn, a former coach at the Rochdale Village Little League, was arrested and charged in February with having sexual contact with three boys, ages 13 and 14, at his Rochdale Village home between July 2009 and January 2011. He was also accused of showing child pornography to minors and filming two teens engaged in sex acts.

Hartshorn pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree criminal sexual act, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual act and two counts of use of a child in a sexual performance. Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Buchter indicated Hartshorn would be sentenced to 18 years in prison, the district attorney’s office said.

“The defendant has admitted being a sexual predator who took advantage of his position as a Little League baseball coach to get close to young boys before sexually abusing them,” said District Attorney Richard Brown. “The consequences of his actions can have a lasting and profound impact on his victims – for that reason alone, the intended prison sentence to be meted out by the Court is more than warranted.”

According to the criminal charges, Hartshorn would frequently have members of his team at his residence.

This isn’t Hartshorn’s first time in trouble with the law. According to published reports, he was convicted in 1989 on charges of sodomy, promoting sexual performance by a child under 16 and promoting obscene sexual performance by a child under 16.

Hartshorn has been held without bail since his February 2011 arrest.

Additional reporting by Steve Mosco

Officials break ground on new Adult Learning Center in Rochdale Village

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo by Dominick Totino Photography

Brainy bookworms in Rochdale Village will soon have a $4.1 million new home away from home.

According to Queens Library officials, the community’s Adult Learning Center will be doubled in size to include more classroom and discussion group space, additional computers, listening stations and a new handicapped-accessible restroom.

“The expanded Adult Learning Center at Rochdale Village is a solid investment in the future,” said Borough President Helen Marshall, who provided $500,000 in funding. “When finished, it will be a practical resource for users who want to explore the programs and services it offers to enhance opportunities and career paths in a comfortable, up-to-date modern facility.”

Additional funds were allocated by Assemblymember Vivian Cook and Councilmember Ruben Wills, who joined Marshall and library officials on March 9 during the project’s groundbreaking and ceremonially kick-off.

According to library officials, the adult learning center — which is one of seven in the Queens Library system — serves hundreds of adult students every year, helping them to learn how to read, write and converse in English. The center also helps prepare students for pre-GED classes.

“The Adult Learning Center is vital to the adults in our community,” Cook said. “This expansion is great news for the residents of southeast Queens.”

The new center will be built on the vacant city-owned property adjacent to the library, officials said. Among other renovations, officials said, the roof, indoor ventilation systems and fire protection equipment will be replaced and self-service check-in technology will be installed.

Construction is expected to conclude in the fall of 2013.

Meanwhile, officials said,  will continue its normal operations, and the Adult Learning Center will hold its sessions at the Rochdale Village and Laurelton Libraries in the interim.